Background. Clay is often used in cosmetic treatments, although little is known about its action.
Aim. To evaluate the effect of topical clay application on the histoarchitecture of collagen fibres in rat skin.
Methods. Animals received a daily application of clay and retinoic acid (RA) 0.025% to the dorsal skin over 7 and 14 days, under vaporization at 37 °C for 40 min. Control skin was not vaporized. Samples from each region were excised, and stained with picrosirius red for collagen evaluation.
Results. Seven days after clay treatment, an increase in the number of collagen fibres was observed in treated skin compared with control skin (51.74 ± 1.28 vs. 43.39 ± 1.79%, respectively, P < 0.01), whereas RA did not alter the collagen level (45.66 ± 1.10%). Clay application over 14 days did not induce a further increase in skin collagen, whereas treatment with RA did (58.07 ± 1.59%; P = 0.001 vs. control).
Conclusion. Clay application promotes an increase in the number of collagen fibres, which may account for its beneficial effects.